“Like dancing on water, how lissome the dancing steps are; slim and graceful, the dancer seems to be flying.” — This poem describes the light and elegant dance of Xie Aman(谢阿蛮), a dancer in the Tang Dynasty.

According to The Ramble of the Green Chick by Wang Zhuo and The Unauthorized Biography of Yang Tai Zhen in the Tang Dynasty, there is a beautiful tale associated with the Tune of Dancing on Water (Ling Bo Qu). When the Emperor Xuan Zong and his favorite concubine Yang Yun Huan were in the eastern capital Luoyang, the Emperor had a dream: a beautiful woman wearing a high chignon and a gown with loose sleeves went to the bedroom and bowed: “I am the dragon girl in Ling Bo Pond and have gained merit by guarding the dragon palace. Since the Emperor is proficient in music, could you please give a composition to our dragon family?” So the Emperor composed the Tune of Dancing on Water with Hu Qin. When he woke up, he was still able to remember the tune and practiced the music with the imperial musicians. While they were playing the music near the Ling Bo Pond, there were waves rising and a fairy girl rose from the water. She was the person of whom the Emperor had dreamt. The Emperor decided then to have a temple built near the pond and worshiped there every year.

In The Unauthorized Biography of Yang Tai Zhen, it says that the Emperor Xuan Zong once had a performance held in the small Qingyuan Palace at which he ordered Xie Aman to dance to the Tune of Dancing on Water. King Ning (Xuan Zong’s older brother) played the instrument called di, the Emperor played the sheep skin drum and Yang played the pipa. The imperial musician Ma Xan Qi hit the fangxiang, Li Gui Nian played the bili, Zhang Ye Hu played the konghou, and He Huai Zhi played the castanets. With the music being played by those superior musicians, Xie Aman danced gently with lissome steps that were as light as a cloud floating in the sky, or as quick as a dragonfly playing on water, sparklingly illustrating the fairy air of the dragon girl. Everyone was amazed by her dance. Yang even gave her own golden bracelet as a gift to Aman for her great performance, which attested to how talented Aman was, because Yang Yunhuan was a very gifted dancer herself.

During the Kaicheng period of the Emperor Li Ang in the Tang Dynasty, the poet Zheng Yu was researching stories about what had happened in the imperial palace. He wrote a poem saying: “Mellow and graceful is Ying Niang’s voice, light and splendid dancer Maner’s performances.” He also noted that Ying Niang and Maner (Xie Aman) were the renowned actresses amongst the sons of the Pear Garden.

Edited by staff


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